June 13, 2022

“A Nice Cottage at Pinehurst, Comfortably Furnished…”

As usual there is a tremendous amount of pruning to be done.

George and Katherine Marshall purchased a “cottage” in Pinehurst, North Carolina, in 1944 for $16,500. Katherine had discovered it while recovering from pneumonia at the Carolina Hotel. That illness may have resulted from conditions at Dodona Manor, their large house in Leesburg, Virginia, which was difficult and expensive to keep warm. (Marshall called it a “pneumonia trap.”) Marshall told General “Hap” Arnold in March 1945 that “Mrs. Marshall has bought quite a nice lodge or cottage at Pinehurst, comfortably furnished and fully equipped. It has ample grounds and as usual there is a tremendous amount of pruning to be done.”

Liscombe Lodge during the Marshalls’ residence.

They named the Pinehurst home Liscombe Lodge, a name that it has retained after almost 70 years and several owners. (Liscombe is the name of a village in England and the name of a resort in Nova Scotia, but it is not known why the Marshalls chose it.) When the house was sold in 2011, the asking price was $1.4 million.

Liscombe Lodge today (McDevitt Town and Country photo)

The Marshalls typically closed the house in Leesburg around the first of October and stayed in Pinehurst until around the first of May. When Marshall was secretary of defense, he and his orderly, Sergeant William Heffner, would fly from Washington to Pinehurst in a military DC-3 for the weekend. They could receive medical care and shop at the post exchange at Fort Bragg, which was 35 miles away. When the Marshalls attended the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, Katherine wore a dress from Razook’s in Pinehurst.

Crew that flew Katherine to Pinehurst. Sgt. Heffner is second from left.

Marshall enjoyed watching golf tournaments, fishing and horseback riding in Pinehurst. “Beyond that,” he told a friend, “only frequent occupancy of a chaise lounge and a book.”

Marshall reading at Liscombe Lodge.

He had permission to ride around the golf course in a cart and liked to watch golfers approach the holes.

Marshall and Heffner at a Pinehurst golf course.

Jimmy Winn, the Marshalls’ 13-year-old grandson, lived with them in Pinehurst in the winter of 1954-55 while his family was in Japan. Jimmy was “a handful with all my early failings,” according to Marshall. He was Jimmy’s “coach in English and spelling” but admitted his own weakness in spelling and said he was the provincial “one-eyed man in the Kingdom of the blind” when it came to helping Jimmy. (The Marshalls were in their early 70s that year.) Jimmy’s parents, Molly and James Winn, bought their own home in Pinehurst in 1951.

Marshall and Katherine with her sister Allene, Jim and Molly Winn and their family, and Heffner.

The Marshalls once kept Molly Winn’s German shepherd while the Winns were away. When a deliveryman brought an order to their home, the dog bit him on the leg. Their liability insurance covered the doctor’s fee, and Marshall volunteered to pay the deliveryman for his pain and suffering in addition to the doctor’s fee.

A Pinehurst resident remembered seeing Marshall with his grandchildren at a small circus in Pinehurst: “It was evident that he was taking his grandfatherly duties quite seriously, watching over them carefully as they were immersed in the animals and the circus acts.”

The Marshalls with one of their dogs, Bones; joined by Mr. and Mrs. William Pawley at Liscombe.

Katherine sold Liscombe in January 1960, only a few months after Marshall’s death on October 16, 1959. It is privately owned, but Pinehurst honors Marshall with a monument in Marshall Park.

Gen. Raymond Odierno lays a wreath at the monument in Marshall Park, Pinehurst, NC. (The Pilot photo)

Tom Bowers is the former docent director at George Marshall’s Dodona Manor in Leesburg, Virginia. He was professor and dean of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 1971 to 2006.